The larva feeds on Rumex species such as Rumex acetosella and in the southern and central Alps often Rumex scutatus.
In Provence, I found numerous eggs on stems and petioles of Rumex intermedius on roadsides through sparse grasslands and shrub associations.
Lycaena alciphron inhabits pastures, nutrient-poor grasslands, embankments, rocky walls and slopes, sandy grasslands and block fields. Lycaena alciphron occurs most often in siliceous areas like the Black Forest or especially on mountain slopes of the southern and central Alps. It is also found in limestone areas of the Southern Alps.
Lycaena alciphron flies in a single generation, mostly from June to July (in the southern lowlands already in May). The young caterpillar overwinters. I found fully-grown caterpillars in early June in the Valais in 2000m above sea line at Rumex scutatus on sandy, stony slopes. Simultaneously found caterpillars of Lycaena virgaureae were only half-grown, wereas those of Lycaena hippothoe were also mature. In early April 2012, I observed half-grown larvae on Rumex scutatus on a steppe-like slope in South Tyrol (Vinschgau).
Endangerment: threatened with extinction
Especially north of the Alps, Lycaena alciphron is threatened by afforestations, succession after abandonment and intensified management (mowing, fertilization etc.).
In the Central and Southern Alps, Lycaena alciphron is represented quite frequently in the subspecies gordius, such as in the Maritime Alps, the Valais and in the Haute-Provence.
Lycaena alciphron is widespread in Europe, with the exception of the northwestern regions and Scandinavia, but mostly very local. The butterfly is also found in parts of Asia.